Supreme Court: circumstantial evidence enough to prove dowry murder
New Delhi : If a dowry death takes place in the privacy of a house and the assailants have the opportunity to plan and commit the offence, circumstantial evidence is enough to prove the guilt, the Supreme Court has held.
"The pristine rule that the burden of proof is on the prosecution should not be taken as a fossilised doctrine as though it admits [of] no process of intelligent reasoning. The doctrine of presumption is not alien to the above rule, nor would it impair the temper of the rule." If the traditional rule on the burden of proof is wrapped in pedantic coverage, the offenders in serious offences will be the major beneficiaries and society the casualty, said a Bench consisting of Justices G.P. Mathur and R.V. Raveendran.
Crime in secrecy
Expressing concern over the growing dowry menace, it said the demand for money and other gifts from the parents of the bride had increased phenomenally in the last few years. "Cases are frequently coming before the courts, where the husband or in-laws have gone to the extent of killing the bride if the demand is not met. These crimes are generally committed in complete secrecy inside the house and it becomes very difficult for the prosecution to lead evidence."
Writing the judgment, Justice Mathur said: "No member of the family, even if he is a witness to the crime, would come forward to depose against another family member. The neighbours, whose evidence may be of some assistance, are generally reluctant to depose in court as they want to keep aloof and do not want to antagonise a neighbourhood family. But it does not mean that a crime committed in secrecy or inside the house should go unpunished."
The Bench said: "Where an accused is alleged to have committed the murder of his wife and the prosecution succeeds in leading evidence to show that shortly before the commission of the crime they were seen together or the offence took place in the dwelling home where the husband also normally resided and if the accused does not offer any explanation how the wife received injuries or offers an explanation which is found to be false, it is a strong circumstance which indicates that he is responsible for the commission of the crime."
In the instant case, Trimukh Maroti Kirkan, his father and mother were convicted of dowry harassment offences but were found not guilty of the murder of Revata Rai, wife of Kirkan. On appeal both by the State of Maharashtra and the accused, the High Court acquitted Kirtan's parents but found Kirtan guilty of committing the murder and awarded him life imprisonment. The Bench dismissed his appeal.
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Tuesday, February 6, 2007
SC: circumstantial evidence enough to prove dowry murder
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